In discussing the subject who is a Homoeopathician, we find a wide range of opinion, ranging from that requiring absolute fidelity to each and every ripe idea held by Hahnemann, down to the frivolous pretext that the mere use of homoeopathic medicines is sufficient.
The Anti-Hahnemannians have, so far, utterly failed in demonstrating any material error in the mature convictions of that grand old man. They have manipulated his ideas to suit their equivocal ends, confounding his first immature impressions (when dazzled and bewildered by the sublime conception just dawning upon his mind, of the newly discovered principle of cure) with the more advanced convictions of his deliberate judgment.
A generous spirit of magnanimity has been at times tortured into admissions of doubt regarding principles already well established in his own mind. They sneer at his philosophy of dynamization-miscomprehend or misrepresent his theory of chronic diseases. They ignore his unmistakable final decisions in favor of the single remedy and warp a few premature expressions into a permanent and unqualified endorsement of polypharmacy. They disregard his earnest admonitions, and looking backwards, shout, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” They exhume decayed fragments from the tomb of Old Physic, and offer them as vital principles to weaken and invalidate his doctrines. They prate of joining the living to the dead, in short, of compromising with Allopathy.
I confess I see no reason for two definitions of the word; the second definition includes the first, for it is self-evident that one cannot be a homoeopathic physician who does not practise according to the science of Homoeopathy; as to the art, we will consider that topic farther on.
In pursuing our inquiry it will be necessary to analyze somewhat the framework, and see how the new edifice is built. The word Homoeopathy, we all know, is derived from two Greek words Homion Pathos, literally signifying like disease; this term was adopted by the author as the most appropriate and comprehensive monogram to designate its primary principle. This primary principle is more fully expressed by the formula similia similibus curentur, and is the key stone to the arch of the new dispensation of medicine; it binds the rudimentary edifice together: without it all collaterals become useless; without it we can have no permanent arch, no temple, no Homoeopathy.
In proceeding with our symbol of the arch, let us carefully observe its construction. First, we require a foundation on the two sides; these are necessary before the key stone is needed. So with Homoeopathy. Our arch is based, one side upon the phenomena presented by the sick man; the other upon drug provings; those, perfectly united by the law similia similibus curentur, form the entrance into the temple. Without these three features, squarely recognized as the basis, and observed as guides in practice, no man is prepared to set out in the new undertaking. These three features constitute a therapeutic trinity, one and inseparable; each must be maintained in its integrity or the whole scheme fails. He who fails in making an exhaustive analysis of the condition of his patient, is necessarily incompetent to select the appropriate remedial agent, and he who lacks in his knowledge of the pathogenesis of drugs is as impotent as one who has never heard of the new science of cure.
We use the term science as distinct from that of art, in its relation to Homoeopathy, because art is human, arbitrary, capricious, fitful, fleeting, and depends solely upon the personal creative genius of the artist, while science is based on fixed, undeviating and eternal principles in nature. Man, in developing science, does not originate, but merely discovers, works out and adapts what has always existed behind, the veil of human ignorance. Discoveries in science are but occasional glimpses at the methods of the great Creator. Science is inflexible and omnipotent; it is the economy of the Supreme Intelligence. Science does not spring suddenly into full maturity, like Minerva from the brain of Jove, for it extends to the infinite, and demands the arduous, patient, persevering labor of lives. We advance in its light just in proportion to our opportunity and ability to seek; out, grasp and retain truth. Before the time of Hahnemann, the practice of medicine was properly denominated an art, and so blind, uncertain and inexplicable were many of its mysteries “in ye olden time,” that eminent physicians were often suspected of being in league with the devil; indeed they were accused of practicing the black are; at a later day conscientious men who have acquired illustrious and enduring fame, like John Mason Good, exclaim: “I am weary of guessing;” while Homoeopathy, with its simple, efficient, fixed and clearly defined law of cure, has higher claims, and legitimately aspires to a rank among the sciences.
As before stated, the symptoms of the sick man and drug proving are the foundation, and similia similibus curentur the key stone to the arch, but high above the arch are other important symbols - the illuminated windows, the carved cap stones, the decorated cornice and the ever-shining dome.
The true Homoeopathician does not halt at the threshold, but advances patiently, loyally and earnestly, to the consideration of all questions which bear upon the noble cause he has espoused. Potentization, alternation, repetition, etc., instead of bugbears, become subjects of liberal and candid thought and experiment.
Mere topics will be considered at another time. The primary step of the Homoeopathician is to make a proper examination of his patient; each case must be individualized as though no such malady had ever before existed. A thorough understanding of the pathological condition is indispensable as an aid to a correct diagnosis and sound prognosis; it also gives us a general idea of the disease under consideration, but in a therapeutic sense is of less importance than an accurate comprehension of the subjective symptoms, their peculiar features and character, the time and causes of their appearance or aggravation, the means and modes of their amelioration, a knowledge of temperament, disposition, moral characteristics and disturbances, hereditary tendencies, etc. It is also often the case that single and apparently insignificant symptoms are of the first importance.
The next step requisite is a thorough knowledge of the action of drugs; this must be obtained from provings upon the healthy and from clinical observations upon the sick; it presents a scene of action so vast, and as yet so comparatively unexplored, that it is impossible to estimate or limit either its prospective field of usefulness, or the amount of labor which lies in the pathway and demands the attention of every faithful follower of our indefatigable master.
We have among us a turbulent class who vehemently denounce as chimerical and unreliable all experiments with highly dynamized substances, and who clamor loudly in favor of provings obtained by crude drugs; they seem to be oblivious to the fact that several of our most potent remedies are powerless, or have no marked medicinal properties in their crude state, as for instance, Silex, Carbo veg., Natr. mur. etc. These men rarely or never resort to dynamized drugs in practice and are therefore incompetent witnesses. They delight in seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting the remedy; they turn their backs to the proffered manna, and hanker for the leeks and onions of Egypt; they attribute all effects to the material action of the drug, to the greater permeating power of the attenuated atom; they are incapable or averse to recognizing the dynamic theory of Hahnemann; they have no conception of the potency of spiritual forces and, in the face of abundant and capable affirmative testimony, they offer about as reasonable a general denial as the old man in the familiar story, who knew the world did not turn round, because, if it did, the water would spill out of his millpond.
Every careful observer of the influence of potentized drugs has seen, not only curative effects, but also under their action, has witnessed the development of new phenomena modifying the previous condition of their patients.
The writer has met instances in sick persons, and in persons apparently in the enjoyment of perfect health, where the thirtieth and lower attenuations (no other were tried at the time) of different drugs produced pathogenetic symptoms so positive and marked, that the individuals were able to detect and identify the medicines taken, even when efforts were made to lead the mind in other directions. Provings by attenuation as well as crude drugs are advocated and vouched for by the best and highest authorities in our school.
In studying the Materia Medica, particular attention should be paid to what are termed characteristic symptoms. Characteristic symptoms are those which distinguish each drug from all others. Taking two or more drugs, capable of producing nearly the same general effects, you will find among them some dissimilar feature which serves to distinguish each one; this dissimilar feature is its characteristic. To illustrate, Pulsatilla and Cyclamen bear a close resemblance to each other, except as regards the mental phenomena presented; under Puls. we find a mild, yielding, weeping disposition, while under Cyc. we find the patient obstinate, irritable and fault-finding, and these features are the characteristics which should decide ns in the choice of either remedy.
Again, under both Rhus. tox. and Rhododendron we find “rheumatic and arthritic drawings and tearings,” “aggravated by repose.” Now, how shall we decide in a given case where these symptoms are present, which remedy is required?
If upon farther examination we find “the pains relieved after “movement,” we also find the same characteristic in the pathogenesis of Rhus. tox, and know that Rhus tox. is the remedy; if, on the contrary, we discover that the patient suffers ”great dejection and painful weariness after the least exercise, “we find this latter characteristic is the proving of Rhododendron, and Rhododendron is the remedy.
Upon critical examination; it will be found that each remedy in our Materia Medica is attended by its own peculiar characteristics, a complete recognition of which is indispensable to the successful practitioner. These peculiarities are so boundless that no one human mind is capable of retaining them; therefore the genuine Homoeopathician is unavoidably a laborious student. It was never possible to practice intelligent Homoeopathy without constant recourse to the provings, and we deem that spirit both cowardly and imbecile, which keeps the physician away from his books and prompts him to make off-hand, shabby prescriptions, for fear his patients will charge him with ignorance.
It sometimes appears to me that we have grown too rapidly in public favor; the demands upon us for professional services leave scarcely any time for self-improvement or the development and perfection of our science. Flattered by pecuniary success, we have grown vain, careless and superficial; we forget that he who devotes his energies to fortifying and building up our Materia Medica, and thus establishing and extending our sphere of usefulness, deserves a more exalted position than he who is actuated solely by mercenary motives. One will merit the gratitude of the world, while the other moulders forgotten in spite of the dross he has accumulated.
So exact and definite is our system of cure, that the scientific Homoeopathician is able, long before the advent of an approaching epidemic, to predict, with almost absolute certainty, the remedies best adapted to meet it. Hahnemann thus anticipated Asiatic cholera, while it yet raged with terrible fatality in India. He proclaimed that Camphor, Cuprum and Veratrum album would stay the ravages of that fell destroyer and the splendid results of homoeopathic treatment in that disease arrested the attention of the civilized world and vindicated the soundness of his philosophy.
If such accuracy was attainable in the infancy of our science, how vastly superior, with our relatively increased knowledge, should be its scope today, and, if thus powerful in the growing strength of our stalwart youth, who shall predict or venture to, bound its future? It promises dominion over disease so, complete and absolute as to almost realize that long sought for restorative of the ancients - the fabled fountain of youth.
With these brief reflections in our mind, the duty of the sincere Homoeopathician is clear; it may be summed up in the single word, fidelity, fidelity; and we cannot look with lenient eye upon those professional parasites, the best part of whose Homoeopathy is usually inscribed on their “shingles,” and who delude the public confidence and unjustly bring odium upon the cause, by deliberately making a promise to the ear only to break it to the hope.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 06 No. 07, 1866, pages 241-247
|Fidelity. [address before the Onondaga Co. (n. Y.) Homoeopathic Medical Society.
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